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Study Projects Self-driving Cars Could Generate Billions In Revenue

March 6, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Self-driving cars could yield billions of dollars a year in sales from mobile internet services and products, even if occupants spend only a small portion of their free time on the web, according to a new study by McKinsey & Company.

The study, released Thursday, also projects that widespread adoption of self-driving cars could lead to a 90 percent reduction in U.S. vehicle crashes, with a potential savings of nearly $200 billion a year from significantly fewer injuries and deaths.

In addition, the McKinsey study warns of several risks to established companies, including vehicle manufacturers, dealers and even insurance companies.

McKinsey projects that future owners of self-driving cars could save up to 50 minutes a day, some of which is likely to be spent surfing the web.

The consulting firm estimates the additional free time in the car could generate about $5.6 billion a year in digital revenue for each additional minute that vehicle occupants spend on the internet – as much as $140 billion if half their free time in the car, or roughly 25 minutes, is devoted to daily web surfing and shopping.

The revenue may be divided among the vehicle manufacturers, their major hardware and software suppliers and web-based providers of goods, information and services.

In the future, “people will be able to shop for services or products from their mobile devices or from embedded systems in the vehicle,” said Hans-Werner Kaas, senior partner and head of McKinsey’s automotive practice.

McKinsey said that while traditional automakers, especially premium brands such as Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG’s  Audi, already are beginning to implement advanced driver assistance systems on their cars, they face new challenges in fielding fully autonomous cars from “attackers,” non-traditional companies that do not have legacy vehicle platforms or sales and service networks.

Those outside challengers include such newcomers as Tesla Motors Inc, as well as tech giants such as Apple Inc and Google Inc, both of which are poised to build self-driving cars.

The gradual shift to self-driving cars, which may automakers don’t expect to accelerate until after 2025, could trigger other profound changes in the auto industry.

 

 

BMW Denies Rumors Of Car Building Partnership With Apple

March 6, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

German luxury automobile maker BMW said on Thursday its talks with technology giant Apple did not involve developing or building a car, denying a German magazine report.

Auto Motor und Sport said in its March 4 edition that the two firms were discussing possibilities for cooperating on the development of a passenger car.

Apple was impressed with BMW’s carbon-fiber electric cars, the magazine said, citing a “high ranking BMW manager.”

The BMW spokesman said: “We are in regular talks with companies from the IT and telecommunications sector, including Apple, concerning topics like connected vehicles. Developing or building a car is not a topic of these discussions.”

An Apple spokesman said the company did not comment on rumor or speculation.

Auto Motor und Sport said Apple cars could be sold in Apple stores and serviced at BMW dealerships.

Among the issues that needed to be resolved was whether BMW would allow Apple to develop an operating system for its i3 model, a step that would require BMW to reveal details of its own vehicle software to the technology giant, the magazine said.

Last month, a source told Reuters that Apple was looking beyond mobile devices to learn how to make a self-driving electric car, and was talking to experts at carmakers and automotive suppliers.

 

 

IBM Goes Bare Metal On Cloud Servers

March 6, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM has announced the availability of OpenPower servers as part of the firm’s SoftLayer bare metal cloud offering.

OpenPower, a collaborative foundation run by IBM in conjunction with Google and Nvidia, offers a more open approach to IBM’s Power architecture, and a more liberal licence for the code, in return for shared wisdom from member organisations.

Working in conjunction with Tyan and Mellanox Technologies, both partners in the foundation, the bare metal servers are designed to help organisations easily and quickly extend infrastructure in a customized manner.

“The new OpenPower-based bare metal servers make it easy for users to take advantage of one of the industry’s most powerful and open server architectures,” said Sonny Fulkerson, CIO at SoftLayer.

“The offering allows SoftLayer to deliver a higher level of performance, predictability and dependability not always possible in virtualised cloud environments.”

Initially, servers will run Linux applications and will be based on the IBM Power8 architecture in the same mold as IBM Power system servers.

This will later expand to the Power ecosystem and then to independent software vendors that support Linux on Power application development, and are migrating applications from x86 to the Power architecture.

OpenPower servers are based on open source technology that extends right down to the silicon level, and can allow highly customised servers ranging from physical to cloud, or even hybrid.

Power systems are already installed in SoftLayer’s Dallas data centre, and there are plans to expand to data centres throughout the world. The system was first rolled out in 2014 as part of the Watson portfolio.

Prices will be announced when general availability arrives in the second quarter.

Courtesy-TheInq

Internet.org Aims To Provide Free Services To 100 Countries By Next Year

March 5, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Internet.org, which is already offering free Internet service in six countries, has a rather aggressive goal to connect to 100 countries in the next year.

“We like big, ambitious goals at Facebook,” said Chris Daniels, head of Internet.org in a discussion with several reporters at Mobile World Congress (MWC).

Facebook and several partners founded Internet.org two years ago; it is already serving 7 million customers in Colombia, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, India and Zambia. Many of those who were originally connected for free are now paying some fee for more advanced data services.

Daniels, a vice president at Facebook in charge of Internet.org, said the conversion of free Internet users to paying customers is critical to the carriers who provide the Internet infrastructure that makes the service possible.

He sounded the same refrain that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered on Monday in a keynote presentation at MWC with three onstage carriers, including Airtel Africa, which has offered Internet.org in Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. Millicom, another partner, saw a 30% increase in data users when free data data was launched in Paraguay.

While the goal of 100 countries in a year is ambitious, Daniels said it is achievable, partly because Internet.org has figured out how to work with carriers to offer online services for free that don’t cannibalize the paid services that are the lifeblood of many carriers.

“It’s ambitious to say 100 countries, but our focus is less on the number and to focus more on spreading Internet.org to added companies,” he said. “We’ve had early partners and have brought more [users] online and more are paying for data and buying voice and SMS.”

Once more countries are on board, Daniels said the free basic service model should continue. “We’d like to see it ongoing. We’d like to see free basic services always available. Operators will leave it on only if it continues to benefit their business.”

 

 

 

Mozilla Announces 64-bit Firefox Preview For Windows OS

March 5, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Mozilla announced its first developer preview of a 64-bit Windows version of Firefox. The launch put the 64-bit edition on track to appear as a polished, ready for the public browser by mid-May.

“Today we’re happy to announce … 64-bit builds for Firefox Developer Edition are now available on Windows, adding to the already supported platforms of OS X and Linux,” wrote Dave Camp, director of developer tools, and Jason Weathersby, a technical evangelist, in a post to a company blog.

Firefox 38′s Developer Edition, formerly called “Aurora,” now comes in both 32- and 64-bit version for Windows. Currently, Mozilla’s schedule, which launches a newly-numbered edition every six weeks, has Firefox 38 progressing through “Beta” and “Central” builds, with the latter — the most polished edition — releasing May 12.

Cook and Weathersby touted the 64-bit Firefox as faster and more secure, the latter due to efficiency improvements in Windows’ anti-exploit ASLR (address space layout randomization) technology in 64-bit.

The biggest advantage of a 64-bit browser on a 64-bit operating system is that it can address more than the 4GB of memory available to a 32-bit application, letting users keep open hundreds of tabs without crashing the browser, or as Cook and Weathersby pointed out, run larger, more sophisticated Web apps, notably games.

Mozilla is the last 32-bit holdout among the top five providers of browsers.

Google shipped a Windows 64-bit Chrome in August 2014 and one for OS X in November, while Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) have had 64-bit editions on OS X and Windows since 2009 and 2006, respectively. Opera Software, the Norwegian browser maker known for its same-named desktop flagship, also offers a 64-bit edition on Windows.

 

 

 

 

 

Is AMD’s Mantle Future Dependent Upon DirectX 12?

March 5, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It looks like the Mantle API developed by AMD is slowly reaching its end of its useful life.

Mantle has apparently served its purpose as a bridge between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 and AMD is starting to tell new developers to focus their attention on DirectX and GLnext.

Raja Koduri, the Vice President of Visual and Perceptual Computing at AMD said in a blog post:

The Mantle SDK also remains available to partners who register in this co-development and evaluation program. However, if you are a developer interested in Mantle “1.0″ functionality, we suggest that you focus your attention on DirectX® 12 or GLnextGLnext.

This doesn’t mean a quick death for Mantle. AMD suggest it will support its partners and that there are still titles to come with support for Mantle. Battlefield Hardline is one of them and it’s a big one.

Back in November AMD announced a Mantle update, telling the world that there are four engines and 20+ launched or upcoming titles, and 10 developers publically announced their support for Mantle.

There are close to 100 registered developers in the Mantle beta program. The Frostbite 3 engine (Battlefield Hardline), CryEngine (Crysis series), Nitrous Engine (Star Citizen) and Asura Engine (Sniper elite) currently have support for Mantle. Some top games including Thief and Sid Meir’s Civilization Beyond Earth also support Mantle.

AMD will tell developers a bit more about Mantle at the Game Developers Conference 15 that starts today in San Francisco and will talk more about its definitions of an open platform. The company will also tackle on new capabilities beyond draw calls and it will remain there for the people who are already part of the Mantle program.

However, AMD suggests new partners should look the other way and focus on alternatives. When we spoke with Raja and a few other people from AMD over the last few quarters, we learned that Mantle was never supposed to take on DirectX 12. You should look at Mantle as AMD’s wish list, that’s what AMD wanted and needed before Microsoft was ready to introduce DirectX 12. Mantle as a low-level rending API and keep in in mind that it came almost two years before DirectX 12.

The Battlefield 4 Mantle patch came in February 2014 roughly a year ago and it showed a significant performance increase on supported hardware. Battlefield Hardline is the next big game to support Mantle and it comes in two weeks. CryEngine also supports Mantle, but we will have to wait and see if the support will ever translate into an actual game with Mantle support.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Tops Samsung In Global Phone Sales

March 5, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc sold the most number of smartphones globally in the fourth quarter, beating out Samsung Electronics Co Ltd  for the first time since 2011, according to research firm Gartner.

Apple sold 74.83 million smartphones to end users worldwide, ahead of the 73.03 million phones sold by Samsung, according to Gartner’s report.

The success of big-screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus drove Apple’s sales in its first quarter ended Dec. 27. The company reported a profit of $18 billion for the period, the biggest ever reported by a public company, according to S&P analyst Howard Silverblatt.

Apple’s smartphones sales jumped about 49 percent in the fourth quarter, according to Gartner. In contrast, Samsung, the market dominator since 2011, recorded a nearly 12 percent fall.

In January, the company posted its fifth consecutive quarter of earnings decline in the mobile division.

“Samsung continues to struggle to control its falling smartphone share, which was at its highest in the third quarter of 2013,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Besides losing market share to the costlier iPhones, the Korean company has been battling low-cost Chinese vendors such as Xiaomi and Huawei .

Samsung unveiled its new range of slim-bodied Galaxy S smartphones just recently, made from aircraft-grade metal.

 

PayPal To Acquire Mobile Wallet Firm Paydiant

March 4, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

PayPal is acquiring startup Paydiant to beef up its mobile wallet offerings as competition in the space grows.

PayPal didn’t disclose how much it is paying for the Wellesley, Massachusetts, company, which has a platform that companies can use to build their own branded mobile payment and loyalty apps.

Several well-known companies use Paydiant’s technology, including Subway and Capital One. It has also been adopted by the Merchant Customer Exchange, a group of major retailers including Target, CVS and WalMart that is developing a mobile payment app called CurrentC to take on Apple Pay.

Paydiant’s payment technology allows customers to pay for items by using either NFC (near field communication) or a QR code, which is scanned at checkout. To pay with NFC, which is also used by Apple Pay, the customer holds a mobile device near a special sales terminal that can read the embedded NFC chip. However, some merchants have said they are reluctant to invest in new payment terminals that support NFC payments.

PayPal, which is getting spun off from parent company eBay later this year, will face increased competition in the mobile payment market. While Apple’s contactless payment system has received much attention since it launched in October, other large tech companies are building their own products.

 

 

 

BlackBerry Unveils Leap Smartphone

March 4, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry debuted a new mid-market smartphone named the BlackBerry Leap that is set to replace the Z3 device launched a year ago, in a move to woo buyers in certain emerging markets where BlackBerry still has a fairly large client base.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said the phone, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, would initially hit stores in U.S and European markets around April and be priced around $275.

The company also said it planned to roll out two more models over the course of the next months, both with a keyboard.

One will be a high-end smartphone with what Blackberry called “a dual curve all touch display” with a keyboard behind a slide. That may refer to the sort of curved screen featured in Samsung’s latest Galaxy smartphone.

“We don’t have a code name for it but I call it The Slide,” BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen told media in Barcelona. “It will come some time this year,” he added without giving a specific date.

BlackBerry, once a must-have device for business executives and government officials because of its pioneering secure email service, has hemorrhaged market share to Apple’s iPhone and rivals running on Google’s Android software.

In a bid to remain relevant, the company has pivoted in the last year to focus much more on its software business and core strengths such as data security. However, the company has stressed it remains committed to its devices business.

 

 

Huawei Hints At Big Plans To Sell Phones, Wearables In U.S.

March 4, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Two years after U.S. lawmakers declared it a national security threat, China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is planning a campaign to win over U.S. consumers, rolling out new mobile phones and wearable devices backed by a marketing effort.

China’s second-largest smartphone maker, already with more than $40 billion in annual revenue from a wide range of telecom gear and products, is preparing to introduce Americans to several of its smartphones and wearable devices this year, including its youth-oriented “Honor” phone, Huawei officials told Reuters.

The company’s 2015 U.S. plans, which have not been previously reported, will encompass traditional advertising, online promotion and sports team sponsorships, said Huawei’s U.S. spokesman Bill Plummer.

Huawei is changing its approach to marketing as it tries to shed its image as a purveyor of cheap technology products – a common perception issue for many Chinese companies. It’s an important shift for a company that for years had been single-mindedly focused on engineering and relatively dismissive of consumer branding.

In December, it touted its new Honor 6 Plus phone on a billboard in New York’s Times Square. Plummer said that was “a sign of things to come.”

He declined to say how much Huawei will spend on its new marketing campaign or what sports team, or teams, it had in mind. It already sponsors London soccer club Arsenal, cricket teams in India and rugby clubs in Australia.

At the Mobile World Congress over the weekend in Barcelona, Huawei took the wraps off a smartwatch that will be sold in over 20 countries including the U.S.

Huawei now intends to appeal directly to consumers with several new phone models, both low end and high end. It hopes to secure deals with carriers, selling online through marketplaces, such as the one operated by Amazon.com, and on its own fledgling gethuawei.com U.S. direct-sales website.

 

 

 

 

Lenovo Announces 64-Bit Android Tablet For $129

March 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Tablets running 64-bit Android haven’t been on the market forr long but prices are already projected to drop quickly.

Lenovo’s 8-inch Tab 2 A8 will ship in June starting at $129, with a 64-bit version of Android 5.0 and a 64-bit quad-core processor from MediaTek. It was one of three tablets Lenovo announced ahead of the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.

Sixty-four-bit tablets have a few advantages. They can support more memory and therefore make light work of multimedia-intensive apps such as games, as well as apps that use encryption for security. More 64-bit Android apps are in development, so a 64-bit tablet also provides some future-proofing.

Only a handful of 64-bit Android tablets are on sale today. One of the best known is Google’s Nexus 9, which sells for $399.99 in the Google Play store. Many more are expected as vendors deploy Android 5.0 more broadly and as more 64-bit processors become available. Lenovo’s Tab 2 A8 could prompt other vendors to drive down prices for their own 64-bit Android tablets.

The Tab 2 A8 is 9 millimeters thick, weighs 360 grams and will offer eight hours of battery life, according to Lenovo. The $129 model has Wi-Fi only, while a $179 model will have integrated LTE. It doesn’t look like the LTE model will be offered in the U.S., however.

The tablet has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and 1GB of RAM. It has a maximum of 16GB of storage that can be expanded to 32GB with a Micro-SD card.

With a 720p screen, Lenovo has compromised on the display to keep the price low.

Tablet shipments flattened last year after years of strong growth, and the 64-bit Android tablets could spur people to upgrade from older models.

Apple had an early start in 64-bit tablets with the iPad Air, but the low-priced tablets could shift the market in Android’s favor.

Lenovo also announced the 10-inch Tab 2 A10, which has a 64-bit processor but will initially ship with a 32-bit version of Android, version 4.4. The tablet will start shipping in April and users will be able to upgrade their devices to Android 5.0 in June, Lenovo said.

 

 

 

AT&T To Link Smart Homes With Connected Cars

March 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

AT&T Inc  will link its connected car and smart home technologies to expand its reach in the fast-growing market for Internet-connected devices, a new battleground for the telecom giant and its rivals.

The wireless company’s home security and automation service “Digital Life” and connected car service “Drive” will be integrated so users can control their homes from a dashboard in their vehicles, Glenn Lurie, chief executive of AT&T Mobility told Reuters last week ahead of the company’s announcement at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“Once you’ve told your home when the car is (for instance)within 20 feet of the house to please open the garage door, put the lights on, turn the alarm off, move the thermostat up, you can have those inanimate objects, the home and your car, really taking care of you,” Lurie said.

With the two services linked up, a “Drive” car can control devices in the home, including security cameras, air-conditioners, coffee makers, stereo systems, door locks, alarm sensors on windows and sensors that detect leaks from water pipes.

Most Americans own a mobile phone, and the $1.7 trillion U.S. wireless industry is turning for growth to connected devices.

AT&T said it had about 20 million connected devices from cars to cargo ship container sensors in 2014, up 21 percent from the year earlier. It has not yet revealed its revenue from its “Internet of Things” business.

Technology companies including Apple and Google are making their own plays. Mercedes-Benz has an application that lets drivers control thermostats from Nest, a company acquired by Google.

Analysts expect fast growth from the “Internet of Things”, or web-connected machines and gadgets. Connected car revenue is expected to be $20 billion annually by 2018 from $3 billion in 2013, and smart homes revenue is estimated to touch $71 billion by 2018, according to Juniper Research.

AT&T has deals with eight automakers from General Motors to Ford on connected car services. Lurie said it was still signing deals.

On the home front, it has partnered with home appliance makers such as Samsung and LG Electronics.

Customers will pay for the new service through AT&T’s Mobile Share Value plan. A user can add $10 to the monthly phone bill to share data across multiple connected devices such as wearables and cars, Lurie said. Or customers can opt for plans provided by their car manufacturer.

 

BlackBerry Announces Plans For Cloud Based Device Management

March 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd announced on Monday it has to plans to roll out a cloud-based version of its device management platform BES12, a move that will make the service more accessible to small- and medium-sized businesses that need to secure devices on their own networks.

Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry has built a reputation around its device management and security capabilities, catering mainly to the needs of large government agencies and corporations. With data security needs becoming more critical, and a number of new entrants in the field nipping at its heels, BlackBerry said it is now broadening its offerings.

BlackBerry’s new BES12 platform manages and secures not only BlackBerry devices, but also those powered by operating systems such as Google Inc’s Android, Apple’s iOS and Microsoft Corp’s Windows platform. It can also manage and secure medical diagnostic equipment, industrial machinery and even cars.

By offering a less costly cloud-based version of the system, BlackBerry hopes to attract a wider range of small- and medium-sized businesses that need these capabilities, but do not have the capacity to install and manage expensive servers of their own.

“We are trying to broaden the enterprise mobility management space,” said BlackBerry Chief Operation Officer Marty Beard on a conference call with media. “And a cloud version really enables us to broaden our footprint.”

The new cloud-based offering, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday, will be offered to customers later this month.

India’s Essar Group, a conglomerate with more than 60,000 employees spread across over two dozen countries, has signed up for a trial of the cloud-based version.

Beard said BlackBerry is seeing growing demand from smaller companies for cloud-based device management offerings, but is also getting demand from larger companies that have certain divisions or groups that need cloud-based capabilities.

 

Uber Reveals Data Breach Exposed Data On 50,000 Drivers

March 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The names and license plate numbers of about 50,000 Uber drivers were exposed in a security breach last year, the company revealed on Friday.

Uber found out about a possible breach of its systems in September, and a subsequent investigation revealed an unauthorized third party had accessed one of its databases four months earlier, the company said.

The files accessed held the names and license plate numbers of about 50,000 current and former drivers, which Uber described as a “small percentage” of the total. About 21,000 of the affected drivers are in California. The company has several hundred thousand drivers altogether.

It’s in the process of notifying the affected drivers and advised them to monitor their credit reports for fraudulent transactions and accounts. It said it hadn’t received any reports yet of actual misuse of the data.

Uber will provide a year of free identity protection service to the affected drivers, it said, which has become fairly standard for such breaches.

The company said it had filed a “John Doe” lawsuit Friday to help it confirm the identity of the party responsible for the breach.

 

Apple Watch To Replace Car Keys, Says Cook

March 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Watch will take the place of car keys and its battery will last the whole day, so says Apple Inc’s Chief Executive Tim Cook in an interview with the Telegraph.

The watch is designed to replace car keys and the clumsy, large fobs that are now used in many vehicles, Cook told the newspaper.

Its battery will last the whole day, and will not take as long to charge as an iPhone, the report quoted Cook as saying.

Apple Watch will also work as a credit card through Apple Pay, Cook told the paper, but did not mention how user verification will work with the watch.

The rollout of the watch might pose a challenge for Apple’s stores, which may involve “tweaking the experience in the store,” the Telegraph said, citing Cook’s conversation with the staff at Apple’s Covent Garden store in London.

Last March, Apple unveiled CarPlay, which lets drivers access contacts on their iPhones, make calls or listen to voicemails without taking their hands off the steering wheel.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the iPhone maker is looking at making a self-driving electric car, and is talking to experts at carmakers and automotive suppliers.

In the interview, Cook said that the Apple Watch will operate a special rewards system, track the user’s activity and “be correct to 50 milliseconds”.

Apple was not immediately available for comment.

The company has scheduled a special event on March 9, where it is expected to showcase Apple Watch, which will be launched in April.